Perceived busyness and productivity of Australian private general dentists

Dental busyness has been used as a convenient indicator of the productivity of a dental practice. Yet, little is known as to how stable this indicator is over time or how it relates to the productivity of dental practices.

Objectives: To examine busyness in dental practice, its trends over time and association with productivity among Australian private general practice dentists.

Methods: This study analysed data from the Longitudinal Study of Dentists’ Practice Activity (LSDPA). The LSDPA is a national survey conducted every five years since 1983 among a core longitudinal sample with supplementation at each subsequent survey round (88, 93, 98). Data were available on perceived busyness and four productivity measures including patients per day (PPD), services per day (SPD), relative value units per day (RVD) and imputed gross billings per day ($GPD) in constant 1998 Australian dollars.

Results: The response rate at each round of the LSPDA was over 71% yielding 365, 481, 441 and 489 dentists for analysis. The percentage of dentists who perceived themselves to be busier than they would like was 7.3%, 8.9%, 10.5% and 12.9%, while the percentage not as busy as they would like was 40.4%, 39.1%, 43.1% and 30.6% across the four survey years. Busyness was associated with all four measures of productivity: PPD, SPD, RVD and $GPD. All four productivity measures significantly decreased across time, and for almost all categories of busyness. The distribution of dentists shifted toward increased perceived busyness despite decreases in all four productivity measures over time.

Conclusion: Perceived busyness appeared to be a relative construct, rather than an absolute measure of productivity. Supported by NHMRC.

Mihailidis S*, Spencer AJ, Brennan DS

Presented at the 45th Annual Meeting of the ANZ Division of the IADR, 25-28 September 2005, Queenstown, New Zealand

Note: * indicates presenter

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